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The hardest part of making kombucha is waiting for it to be ready to enjoy.
Kombucha is simply fermented sweet tea. Making it is as simple as brewing sweet tea, adding the SCOBY, and waiting about 10 days. Magic happens in those 10 days.
That sweet tea is converted into a tangy/sweet, slightly fizzy, wonderful drink filled with good probiotics and health. Don’t worry that you’re consuming the sugar used to make the sweet tea. SCOBY uses it up as food in the fermentation process.
I recommend brewing kombucha at home. I drink at least 2 glasses a day, and at $8 for a liter, and $3 for a 12 oz. bottle it’s like having a daily Starbucks habit. As a frugal homemaker, I recommend brewing coffee at home, and I also recommend brewing kombucha at home.
I also recommend starting off right away using the Continuous Brew Method which I’ll teach you to do in this article. I started out brewing a small batch in a quart-sized Mason jar. A quart jar yielded about 3 cups of kombucha. I waited a week for enough kombucha to last me one day.
That won’t work for me. And if you learn to love kombucha as much as I do, it won’t work for you either.
Plus, my daughter also LOVES kombucha. But she lives in a chilly basement apartment that isn’t warm enough to brew her own, so I’m brewing for both her and me. I need to make a LOT of kombucha. 🙂
Here is What You Need
I’m going to start with a basic kombucha recipe that will make 2 gallons.
- Black tea. Just basic, everyday tea in tea bags. Don’t use anything flavored.
- Sugar. White sugar works just fine. I like to use Turbinado or raw sugar. It gives the brew a richer flavor.
- Chlorine-free water. If your water town’s water is chlorinated, you’ll want to filter it or buy unchlorinated water. You’re wanting to grow bacteria when brewing kombucha. Chlorination will hinder the brewing process. I use a Big Berkey Water Filter in my home. There are too many boil orders in Iowa for me to have confidence in our water quality.
- Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) in starter tea
- Large glass vessel at least 2 ½ gallons in size, preferably with a stainless steel spigot. Check thrift stores for large decanters. I found my 5-gallon decanter at a thrift store for $7. I got the 2-gallon decanter at Walmart for $12.
- Clean cloth for covering the opening of the vessel as it brews. I have some scrap material left over from a sewing project that I use. You can also use what is called a Fat Quarter (a Fat Quarter is an approximately 18×22 inch piece of fabric) for about $1 at Walmart. Just cut it to size.
- Rubber band for holding the cloth to the top of the vessel
- A consistently warm place out of direct sunlight for the brew to sit and ferment
- The Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory. Even though kombucha is very simple to make, this book is a great resource. It contains photos of healthy SCOBYs and SCOBYs that have molded and need to the thrown out, recipes for flavorings that go well with kombucha, how to second-ferment, methods for troubleshooting, what equipment works best for brewing, and fun stories about the history of the drink.
How I started my continuous brew:
8-12 tea bags or 3-4 Tbs. of loose leaf tea tied up in cheesecloth
2 gallons of cool, chlorine-free water
2 cups of sugar
2 full-sized kombucha SCOBYs 4-5 ounces each
3-4 cups of mature kombucha for starter liquid (comes with the SCOBY I’ve linked to in this article)
Heat 2 quarts of water to just below boiling. Remove from heat and add tea. Brew for 5-15 minutes. I use 4 Tbs of loose leaf tea in a cheesecloth bundle and brew for 10 minutes. After brewing, remove the tea bags or bundle.
Add sugar to the hot tea and stir until it is completely dissolved. Let it sit to cool to room temperature.
Pour the remaining 6 quarts into the brewing vessel. When the sweet tea is room temperature, add it to the water in the brewing vessel. With clean hands*, gently place the SCOBYs in the sweet tea. Pour the starter liquid on top of the SCOBYs. This acidifies the pH of the tea near the top of the vessel, offering a layer of protection from potential pathogens.
Cover the vessel with a breathable cloth and secure the cloth with a rubber band. Place the vessel in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
Allow this first batch to ferment for 10-28 days. After 7 days, insert a straw below the SCOBY and begin tasting every few days to determine when the kombucha reaches the flavor balance between sweet and tangy you are seeking.
Once it reaches the flavor you want, decant no more than 1/3 of the total volume of the kombucha into bottles. This kombucha can be refrigerated and enjoyed right away, or you can leave it at room temperature for a few days and do a second fermentation. This is when you add flavors if you wish. Fresh ginger is great in kombucha and, according to The Big Book of Kombucha, aids carbonation in the second fermentation. I like to mix a little tart cherry juice with ginger kombucha.
I save my glass bottles from the store-bought kombucha and use them for my homebrew. Some brewers like to use flip-top bottles for their kombucha. Either kind of bottle is fine.
*Don’t use antibacterial soap to wash your hands before touching the SCOBY. I just run water as hot as I can stand it over my hands for about 20 seconds while rubbing my hands together before putting the SCOBY in the tea.
Did you know you can also ferment sweet coffee with a SCOBY? That’s what’s in the decanter on the left in the photo. I’m giving that a try. I made a small amount in a quart jar, and while it was an acquired taste, I kind of liked it. My daughter hated it. The recipe is in The Big Book of Kombucha. Iced coffee is delicious in the summer. I thought I’d continue to give it a try. Coffee with good probiotics is a win-win!
Update: Kombucafe is not pleasing to my palate. 😝
Get Your Kombucha Supplies Here!
Click on the links in the article or on the images below to get what you need for brewing kombucha at home.
Let me know if you give this a try and how it turns out!
Thank you so much for stopping by!! 😊